Art and the lens - Andi Rusyn
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Sigma have just released their latest ‘Art Lens’, the ultra-wide, ultra-fast 20mm f1.4.

It is wide and it is fast, and quite possibly the fastest 20mm lens available for full frame cameras, just as Sigma claims.

And that’s all well and good.

As I’m sure the quality will be too. Sigma have a well-deserved reputation for making high quality lenses. The spec sounds good and the 9-blade round diaphragm will produce the most desirable of all bokeh. It looks like a fine piece of kit for Canon and Nikon shooters, especially if you purchase the optional metal lens cap! Plastic lens caps are just so yesterday…

This too is all well and good. But to call this lens series (or any lens or series) the ‘Art’ series is a step too far. Even for Japanese manufacturers who are steeped in a colourful product naming history.

To quote Sigma, “Art line delivers high-level artistic expression”. I’m sorry, but WHAT?!!!

To quote again, “They are made for the kind of photography that unleashes the inner artist.” Again, WHAT?!!!

This is akin to saying the brush makes the painter; that given a paint brush with finest horse hair bristle will deliver a new Picasso or van Gogh!

I’m sorry Sigma. Your claims for the quality of the optics and coatings of your lens elements are fine, but claiming your lens will turn any user into Cartier-Bresson or Rankin is simply ridiculous!

Both would still take great photos with a 640x480px Apple Quicktake 100 from 1994.

Your lenses may have “astonishing rendering performance” but they still require the eye and the imagination of the photographer to create art. And they always will.


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